Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: A Quest for Ideal Woman of His Own Concept

India, ID LLCE2015-101:

William Shakespeare, a genius for all ages, changed the nature of drama in England. Women, in Shakespearean plays, always play important roles, mainly the leading roles. Whether they create the main conflicts and base of the plays, or bring up interesting moral and cultural questions, they have always been embedded in challenging situations. The women are more dominant than males, and their effect on the play is mutually different enough. They always surpass the males/heroes. Shakespeare’s plays are replete with cross-dressing and gender-bending. Twelfth Night, his loveliest comedy, depends on the turbulence and apocalypses that arise from Viola’s character disguising her as a man.

This paper tries to ascertain how Viola in Twelfth Night accomplishes the quest for an ideal woman of Shakespeare’s own concept. There may be many reasons, why he keeps his female characters in dominant position. It may have been the Queen Elizabeth I on the throne, or a certain influence of his marriage with an older woman. Some modern critics claim that he is a feminist. However, Shakespeare’s subjectivity can easily be seen at many places in the play. Viola’s character represents many aspects of Shakespeare’s personal life. Viola disguises her identity but reveals others’ true nature that is hidden behind their melodramatic and self-involved behaviour. Thus, this article elucidates Shakespeare’s concepts (hidden or revealed) of beauty, nobility, sincerity and loyalty etc.

Keywords: Challenging, interesting, melodramatic, turbulence, apocalypses, influence, loyalty, embedded, disguises



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